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tv   Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation  CSPAN  March 31, 2016 1:37am-2:27am EDT

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lincoln was, as i said, very closed about his emotional life and didn't talk about it. and i think he did not ever want to talk about that particular wound that he had. thank you. >> good morning, sir. first of all, wasn't i want to you that pointing out that abraham lincoln weighed 180 pounds. >> thank you, mr. lincoln. >> as someone who likes to dress up like lincoln, that tells me that i need to get on the treadmill or split a number of rails in order to get down to that weight. i'm going to work on that. my question for you is, as an adviser to presidents and in this time of the presidential campaign in which secret communications have become an issue, has there been any scholarship regarding the lincoln era, the wartime? i saw the lincoln movie, of course, in which he walked over
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to the -- the telegraph department or whether it was the department of war. obviously, there were secret communications happening. there's also the story about the confederacy where there was a secret message around cigars that was mishandled. my question is, are there any lessons -- i think there's lessons in lincoln's life. are there any lyessons that coud be carried over to this issue of communication and the need to have communications be private and confidential? >> well, lincoln didn't have e-mails. but he had telegrams. and that was the internet of its day. and he would go, as anyone who has seen the lincoln movie recalls, to the telegraph office, which was located in the department of war right across from the white house where the old executive office building is today. and he would spend a good deal of his time there with secretary
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of war stanton and receive the latest communication. it was in that office that he wrote the first draft of the emancipation proclamation. i don't believe that there was much of a classification system then. and it was unheard of, for example, that there would be -- there would be government agents who would reclassify lincoln's telegrams after he left office. [ applause ] so i think we're dealing with another era. and rather than the era of today with its own complexities and a vast government bureaucracy and
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its own tangled rules dealing with new technology, that it has not really worked out. thank you. i believe that's last question. i want to thank you all. [ applause ] >> i'm here today for a very important function. i have the honor of introducing edna greene medford. dr. medford is the author of lincoln and emancipation. i have to begin by saying that she is receiving an ward this afternoon and will be unable to participate in the panel discussion during the afternoon session. so, therefore, it's important to get your questions in early. because she's going off to receive the woman's history award from the northern virginia district of columbia, maryland affiliate of the national association of negro business and professional women. [ applause ]
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i came or wrote an article about intellectuals that campaigned for lincoln and she mentioned my great, great uncle. through searching i got to know dr. medford and she's been a friend, an admired person. she's a chair of the department of history at howard university. she teaches 19th century history. she has lectured broadly and actively involve in so many activities. i have read her book and i strongly urge that all of you do, too, she has brought to the
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floor those who have the most pressing interest and those who worked tirelessly largely unrecognized in achieving emancipation and therefore, those were the slaves, the people who had the most vital interest and her book lincoln and emancipation fills a gap that's been left in the story of emancipation but bringing to the floor the important role that so many blacks played in changing the face of our nation and bringing about emancipation. i've been counseled to be brief and so with that i'd like to introduce dr. edna green medford. [ applause ]
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>> good evening. i'd like to thank ali and the theater to speak with you this morning and thank you for being here before that massive storm we're supposed to be having this evening. i love weather folk. they always -- well they sometimes exaggerate what is going to happen. let's hope that they are right this time because they are playing it down unless you move in the mountains or somewhere. in the brief time merely two decades actually for me that i have studied lincoln and emancipation seriously i've been struck by how often the enslaved people are placed at the story. it is as if they were enslaved, they were powerless to contribute significance to the cause of union with notable
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exception, there is too little effort to understand their motivations and actions beyond some general understanding that they did not like slavery. although, even that is questioned on the neo confederal websites that seem to be proliferating these days, but i'm sure none of you in the audience even bother to go and look at those. my goal in writing "lincoln and emancipation" was to address this efficiency. to broaden the narrative so to speak, to attempt to restore after condition americans especially the enslaved to their rightful place in the emancipation drama and in the war itself. i wanted to place them beside lincoln to make them perhaps undeclared but not so silent partners in the events that altered the american way of life that stood for two and a half centuries. i hope you get some sense of
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their efforts this morning. that a social revolution was occurring in the midst of war became obvious to a northern correspondent and travels through the deep south as he traversed the countryside he observed a very peculiar thing. fields abandoned. kitchens empty of cooks. slave quarters shuttered, and plantation mistresses taking care of household chores themselves. the slave holders boast their mondaysmen and women were contented and devoted servants who would never leave their side and been silenced by war's disturbances. it is singular how totally devoid the negros of mississippi, louisiana and every other cotton state are of fieldty to their masters, the correspondent wrote. the blacks seem to have a passionate love for liberty and
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are constantly incurring risk in its behalf that prove their attachme attachment there to. this madness affected house servan servants, as well. with a strange ingratitude, they run away at the first opportunity weening themselves at once and forever from the charles of slavery. significantly those observations were recorded in spring 1863 just weeks after president lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation. the report joined many others in confirmation that the proclamation was working just as lincoln intended. item boldened the bond men and women giving them an irresistible reason to chance flight. for many in the words of one newspaper editor, the proclamation was like a pillar of flame beckening enslaved men
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and women to seek freedom. in ensuing and issuing excuse me, his emancipating degree, lincoln linked his aim of saving the union to the african american quest for freedom. it was neither an easy decision or hasty one. his position of long standing was that emancipation should be gradual, compensated and carried out with the consent of the people. this union and war forced him to abandon the position in favor of more immediate military solution and approach that won the support and gratitude of the slaves and their allies with some reservations, lincoln's concerns about constraints and public will especially within the border states shape the timing of his actions since slaves were property protected by constitutional guarantees, he believed neither president nor
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congress had the authority to touch it where it already existed. but diplomatic considerations, desire to place at a disadvantage and union military needs motivated him to deal with the issue of slavery rather than later. lincoln quietly encouraged the union state slave-holding states to pursue gradual abolition believing in so doing they would signal the confederacy they would never join their cause when no state aveiled themselves of the opportunity with promises of compensation for their financial loss and assurance they would be assisted monotarly in the colinization of those freed. lincoln took action under his own authority as commander in chief and time of rebellion to suppress such activity. it was a huge gamble since many
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white americans in the north were opposed while they resisted the expansion of the institution, they were not prepared for the anticipated disruptions in their own lives that would come from liberated african americans who it was argued would travel to the north and compete for jobs and demand the rights of other americans. the border states whose sentiment was shaped by their own slave holding interest were even more strident. even in those areas where slave holding was a negotiable factor in the economy, resistance persisted because of the social and political implications of freedom yet lincoln had eventually calculate that military emancipation would do more good than harm for the union cause. in issuing the proclamation he
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had anticipated those freedom would come boldly over to the rebel side. their fright would deprive of the labor force and strengthen the position of the union military. of course, enslaved people had fled their bonn age long before the decree was a thought. it offered opportunities for flight, unavailable to them and even as the president pledged non-interference of slavery and his intention to enforce the infugitive slave act of 1950, black men and women assess their situation and determined the best course of action. some of those that ran away early until the war joined union forces sometimes voluntarily and other times by compulsion as military laborers. their insistence on reaching
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sanctuary we steperceived creat serious problems for the army and administration determined not to make the war between white men an avenue for black freedom. reports of union commanders frustrated slave holders and local officials confirm that black flight gained momentum after january 1st, 1863. two days after the degree took effect, blacks in mississippi were in great numbers bringing horses, mules and wagons. within one month they were flying away at every direction. fugitives from the surrounding countryside had been arriving since union acoccupation in mayf 1861 two years later in may '63, captain charles wilder sup superintendent of the contraband noted there are a great many courageous fellows who have come
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from long distances. sometimes up to 200 miles away. those who travel those distances knew all about the proclamation and persuaded to flee because of it. wilder reported 10,000 had come under union control and the fortressmen area alone. while earlier efforts to floee involved men, the post proclamation freedom seekers were more diverse and in larger units. in certain parts of tennessee a state exempted from the proclamation general william s smith reported in march '63 that whole families were stampeding and leaving their masters. their flight caused serious concerns when union slave holders petitioned for the return of their laborers. union commanders such as smith could do little if anything to address their grievances since
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by the time -- by this time it was the policy of the government not to compel the return of fugitives to their owners. many of the fugitives from slavery had left families behind but vowed to go back to the plantations to retrieve them once they had assurances that they would not be mistreated or sold to cuba. in certain areas there was an organized effort devoted to liberation in mississippi black men were armed and sent back to their homes as missionaries, an act which could result in forfeiting of their life if caught. within a few day, black men in eastern north carolina who had aligned them zels with union forces had liberated a black family in the town of eden ton and touched off a frenzy protest for the local slave holders and this kind of activity is occurring over and over again
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throughout the war. a greater problem for local officials tasked with managing the fugitive slaves from the state, when the war began, fugitives sought sanctuary in the district of colombia, still a slave holding city at the time but urban environment allowed them to blend into the population that had expanded significantly because of wartime activity. once district emancipation was enacted by congress in the spring of 18 62 the city became more attractive to maryland run aways. the state's southern counties where slavery maintained the strength even as the institution had declined elsewhere petitioned lincoln to intervene on their behalf with abolitionest commanders who are not inclined to honor the president's pledge to enforce the fugitive slave act but when there was no district of colombia to run to, even when
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there was no district of colombia to run to and enslaved men and women behaved as if the degree applied to them and often acted accordingly. especially if there was a union military presence nearby. it is difficult to estimate the number of people who actually field during the war. the general consensus is approximately 500,000 of the total population went. contraband camps and the more substantial camps like freed man's village built on the confiscated estate of general robert e. lee outside of washington and the one in mississippi house thousands of residents and maintained the school a hospital and a church. but places that challenged the ability of the contraband to
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survive. others were placed on government farms, lands confiscated from secessionest fleeing. they worked under the supervision often of men who had little intention of facilitating their transition from slavery to freedom and instead were much more interested in continuing their exploitation. those who maintain and these were men from the north. actually. those who maintained -- who remained at home did so less out of any sense of loyalty than from the degree of difficulty fugitives experienced in attempting to reach union lines and from uncertainty regarding how they would be received once they got there. this did not mean however that they wanted to continue ex plowation and abuse from those who claimed ownership by
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laboring infry kwenltly or not at all and a few by going through the countryside. northerners held the fear that violence would erupt with the emancipation of the enslaved. when lincoln issued the preliminary proclamation, he criticized actions as a bloody unconstitutional scheme. the campaign in late 1862 revealed to -- appealed to voters by embracing a platform that considered the proclamation a proposal for the butchery of women and children for scenes of last and arson and murder. >> similarly on illinois,
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democrats who sailed the proclamation as encouraging a means of war fair and which without example in civilized war fair and denounced and the civilized world will denounce with a disgrace to the american people. and perhaps in the greatest example of hypocrisy known in history, the editor of a kentucky newspaper wrote we squarsly know how to express indignation at this outrage of all constitutional law. all human justice, all christian feeling to think that we who have been the for most in the grand march of civilization would be so disgraced by an president to be made as the
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encourager of arson and murder. how indeed. lincoln had acknowledged their fears in his instructions to the freed people that they on stain from all violence except in necessary self-defense. for the most part, they followed this directive but it did not allays fears that retaliation would acompany black freedom. three weeks into the year alarmed authorities in coal pepper county, virginia rounded up suspects in an alleged conspiracy to lead a general population. it seemed the 17 men most of whom were free had in their possession while apprehended copies of newspapers in which the proclamation appeared. it was believed that knowledge of the degree of black people and local citizens in great fear
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for their lives over it. about to experience the reminisce revote and quickly executed the alleged conspirators. secessionest were suspicious of free black men they believed endeavored to poison the mind of the slaves and led them in revolt as if the enslaved people could not lead themselves as white men were conscripted into the confederal army and plantations left without overseers, letters reached local commanders and the central government that urged the compelling of free black men to fight. this would permit overseers to return to the civilian employment while neutralizing the influence of free black men over the enslaved. others even suggested arming enslaved laborers as a way to
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counter the advantage the north had enjoyed since the proclamation tens of thousands were impressed into service as military laborers, as teamsters, nurses, builders and a few thousand in an unofficial capacity before the confederacy adopted an official policy of recruitment of slaves to help for stall defeat near the end of the war of course by that time it was too late. whether there was any real threat between their free allies or conspiracy frenzies that were simply the result of the wild imaginations of white men who recognized that the enslaved had grievances against those who make property of human beings and enough instances however of proven violence to keep the
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confederates alarmed. black men enboldened by the absence of white male authority on the plantation exercised freedom of movement and independent thought and expressed long resentments. mississippi residents complained of bands of free negros who were decemberlating our neighborhoods in louisiana, an exempted area, black men got possession of horses and mules and wagons and rode through the countryside supposedly threatening local dis of tennessee left the plantations to work for themselves and returned at night defiantly asserting their right to do it. in louisiana, locals complained that their laborers quit work,
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go and come when they see fit and ride off at night the mules that have been at work all day gates were left open and livestock killed and carried off and sold reportedly large numbers of enslaved laborers traveled from one plantation to another at all hours night and day and gathered in large numbers on plantations deserted by confederates. in a word one reported we are in a state of anarchy. the presence of the union soldiers occasionally afforded black men and women who had spent their lives under the lash, the opportunity to find justice for past misdeeds and ill treatment on the part of their owners to his misfortune, william clopton became
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character. the family friend of the deceased former president john tyler was well-known for his cruelty to his enslaved laborers and for his secessionest activities, as well. clapton fell into the hands of the general and african brigade of recruits drawn from southern virginia and north carolina and southern virginia is where he lived south of richmond. as fate would have it, several of clapton's laborers found sanctuary with soldiers. the sympathetic general allowed three of the women and a man whose backs wore the scars from lashings administered by the planter to dispense what wild called poet tick justice. george w. hat ton that witnessed the event did not miss the irony of the former slaves up ending the master slave relationship.
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the birds are swinging sweet songs he wrote while poor mr. c is crying to his servants for mercy. julia gardener tyler, john tyler's widow was so outraged by the incident she wrote to president lincoln in protest general wild was court marshalled but the ruling was eventually overturned. confederates became african brigade wearing the union blue. the proclamation called for the use of black men in stations and other places and vessels of all forts to service to the union.
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black men had been recruited from military service earlier but the president's authorization brought them officially into the federal courses for confederates, it was incontrovertible proof of lincoln's disregard for rights and their lives. free men press the president and congress to be allowed to enter the fight from its very beginning believing that valor on the battle field would earn them the freedom and rights that had not come to black people by v virtue. like many white americans of the day, lincoln doubted the fighting resolve and ability of black men and its really strange because black men had fought and all of america's wars and done so courageously so why this resistance? we certainly know why. it had nothing to do with the black man's abilities. when pressed by chicago
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religious leaders to embrace the idea of arming black men he ex pressed his fear. his reluctant also reflected concern that northerners were not prepared for such a radical policy and that the border state states it changed perspective. by the end of 1863 they were approximately 100,000 strong and by the end of the war, 186,000 shoulders armed for the union comprising 10% of the strength. there was no resistance to them being used in the navy but their rank was at level of boy and so
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that didn't seem to offend anyone. lincoln came to believe black soldiers were crucial to winning the war and saving the union was evident in a letter he wrote to general grant. the most recent efforts to raise troops for the mississippi valley, lincoln encouraged grant to do the same. it is a resource which vigorously applied now will close the contest. they criticize his emancipation of policies, when they criticized his emancipation policies, lincoln pointed to the indispensable services these black men rendered in defense of the union on one of those occasions, he pinned a letter to his good friend which he
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intended to be red in springfield. some of the men who would hear his letter had suggested the proclamation was a mistake and should be resended. lincoln assured critics his policies as concerned the black population had been in the interest of preserving the union. some of the commanders of the armies in the field that have given us the most important successes believe the emancipation proclamation and the use of the colored troops constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion he wrote. and that at least one of these importance successes could not have been achieved when it was but for the aid of black soldiers. black men were holding up their end the deal and the promise of freedom having been kept, having been made must be kept and if that was not enough to calm their criticisms, lincoln added
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that when peace returned there will be some black men that can remember with silent time and clinched teeth and steady eye and well poised, they have helped man kind on to this great consummation while i fear there will be unwhite ones unable to forget with malignant heart they have strode to hinter it in a drafted response to krit sauce m level a wisconsin war democrat lincoln reiterated the necessity from continued support suggesting to betray the promise of freedom would ruin the cause it self-. in lincoln easiest mansion, all recruiting of colored men would seize and all colored men now in our service would instantly
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desert us without the assistance of black soldiers, seamen and laborers, the union could no longer maintain the contest. although recruitment centered on the southern states where emancipation was proclaimed and in the north the border states eventually felt the effect of the policy although enslaved men were required to get permission and recruitment officers routinely ignored this and eventually enlistment was open to all since the wives, children and mothers of these soldiers were freed by an act of congress, the policy eroded slavery in those states where recruitment was most intense. lincoln and white northerners and southerns for that matter had no illusions about black men willing even eager to fight.
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negros act on motives and indeed, they did. formerly enslaved men went to war to secure freedom. their free counter parts did so to secure rights. their patriotism was shaped by the expectation that when the war was over, they should share not just the union's victory but not advantages of a free america the 20th connecticut volunteers spoke for the vast majority of the men when he tried to explain to his frightened wife why he refused to use his recent illness to escape the war. do you know or think what the end of this war is to decide he questioned? if our government succeeds, our race will be free. the prejudices that belong to it must follow. slave holders are my enemies. my flags' enemies. the flag i was born under.
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have suffered so much under. they tore that flag from its staff and in its place put their rebel rag and swore by it freedom shall die. it is black sons as well as loyal white sons are fateful and will shed the last drop of blood in defense of the starry banner that is to be the emblem of all whether black or white and if he should die in this great cause, he wrote let me rest in depth on the battle field with my face to the slave holders, an approach and curse under him as long as the world shall stand or a slave holder breed. men remained loyal to the union despite pay and equities, physical abuse at the hands of their white commanders, excessive fatigue duty and
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confederal policies that considered them slaves that could be executed on the spot even if they had been born free. they had been assured by some of the recruiters that they would be treated equally in respect to pay, equipment, bounty, or an aid and protection. they would be soldiers of the union nothing less and nothing different but soon discovered that the racial antagonism would follow them into service. douglas to discuss the desperate treatment black men received at the hands of their own government as well as that of the confederacy. lincoln counseled patience and understanding of the sensitivity of the border states and many northerners to the use of white soldiers at all. the men effected courageously
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voiced objections and even petitioned lincoln for assistance. such core response dance told and the pride at being able to wear the union blue. enlist tment permitted them to men and had no intention of accepting a status from the government they shed blood to preserve rather than except unequal pay, some units chose to except no pay at all and this was a real problem for their families because you had women and children at home who had no means of support except for the money that was coming in from their soldier husbands. the polite of these men at the hands of a government under whose banner they fought whose banner they fought provided ammunition to those back at home who pressed the cause for the rights of citizen ship. those endangering lives earned
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the right not simply to fair and equal treatment and military camps but had purchased with their lives the right of every black man, women and child to be treated like any other american citizen. the folk at home pressed for voting writes, equal access to public accommodations and adequate educational facilities for their children in the months before the war ended, lincoln em praised demands and suggested to the louisiana governor that the state undergoing reconstruction might want to reconsider granting the vote to black veterans and others who doubtless had impressed lincoln with their petitions seeking political equality. shortly before he was assassinated, he was willing to speak openly about political rights at least for the men who served the union well and for
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those who he deemed prepared to take on the responsibilities of citizen ship. for someone who had doubted if black men could make good soldiers, his growth in such a short period of time was significant if not remarkable. after cap americans had grown, as well. their experiences as soldiers as the nation's defenders and as liberators of their people and as non-combat men and women crushing slavery from within and in so doing, weakening the confederacy confirmed their value not in a ledger book or plantation journal but as americans who earned the right to be thought of as such. by the end of the war they had championed a definition of freedom that reflected their expectations and their understanding of what they have done for the nation. both the president and the enslaved had acted on
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self-interest more with lincoln of course its national interest, of course, to preserve the union. and of course, with the enslaved to secure the freedom that was a hallmark of americamerica's fou creed because they were able to find common cause, those interest blended and i'll end with the last statement and the introduction of my book and together they achieved indeed the liberty that americans adhere championed in word. thank you. [ cheers ] >> i think we have a few minutes for questions. >> i was fascinated by what you said early on about how many of the slave holders thought their slaves were happy.
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how wide spread was that delusion and why didn't -- i mean, had they been the under ground railroad, the fugitive slave law, they must have known slaves wanted to get out or individuals thought they were good masters and was it sis mat tick across the south that feeling? >> when you're doing something like that denying people human rights, you have to justify it someway and so you have to convince yourself apparently that you are doing them a favor in the 1830s, before the 1830s you have slave holders in the south who are saying slavery is a necessary evil. we need this institution because we need the laborers but by the post 1830s when abolition is militant, you're having slave holders saying slavery is a positive good. you know, every great society
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has this mud seal to build so african americans provide that foundation. what these people are talking about in kentucky, how dare lincoln do this, we are the most civilized people. they believe that stuff. certainly they understood that there were some enslaved people that would have taken any opportunity to actually free themselves and do damage themselves and to the planters in the meantime but just to be able to survive in that kind of environment that they had created to be able to sleep at night, they had to convince themselves that they were folk who loved them dearly. now, there were some enslaved people who didn't leave the plantation because they were afraid to leave. they had never known anything but slavery and they didn't -- weren't sure how they would make
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it but if you look at the slave narratives, if you look at planter's records, you see how frequently people are fleeing. you have some areas of the country where everybody on the plantation leaves. so it's not just the people out in the fields. it's the folk in the houses. it's the people who are the tradesmen, the black smiths, the wheel rights, carpenters, every group is running away because slavery is not just about ex plowation of labor. that's bad enough. but it's about denying people the right to protect their families having the possibility that your wife is going to be sold away, that your children are going to be sold away and your daughter is going to be raped, that you're going to be beaten to death. all of these things, that's what slavery meant in america. wasn't just exploitation. it was much more than that. it was the means of social
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control one of the reasons you see what you see at the end of the war when people are supposedly freed you have these black codes implemented because there is concern that these people want to still control the black pop lalgs in the way they think they need controlled. >> i always had the question of the fact that emancipation proclamation freed the slaves in the confederacy and yet, it wasn't, as i understood, until the amendment in the constitution the ones in the union or in the north were freed. so it seems to me there was a period of time where slavery was still legal in the northern states and i never heard anyone talk about that problem and what
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transpired because of that. >> that's my next book. i'm actually writing that now. [ laughter ] , truly, i am. i'm fascinated by that, as well. certainly in the border state, they don't get their freedom until the 13th amendment or if the state has actually declared freedom. in missouri in '65, missouri does free its enslaved population in 1865. i have the 13th amendment. maryland frees in 1864. kentucky does not. kentucky is that when lincoln said kentucky was a problem, yes, they definitely were where slavery is concerned. kentucky would not do it. in fact, kentucky did not actually ratify the 13th amendment until 1976, i believe. it was ridiculous but yeah, i think it's '76 when they do
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that. delaware does not free it's enslaved laborers although there are so few there when lincoln asked them to be the test case for emancipation in the border states, delaware says no although they have fewer than 1800 and by the end of the war maybe 900 left and not freeing anybody they are waiting until the 13th amendment but what's interesting, what we don't ever talk about is that there are even after the 13th ameantment, there are people still enslaved. they are in indian territory. there are native american tribes in that territory that have not freed their enslaved laborers and do it as a consequence of a free treaty with the united states. the one time treaties worked for
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somebody other than the government. yeah, it's an issue what is going on during the war is in kentucky, there are people getting freedom as i indicated because they are joining the army and so those men are freed and wives and children and mothers are freed, as well. slavery is being destroyed throughout the south before the 13th amendment is ratified but the -- what the 13th amendment does is not just -- it doesn't just end slavery in the other areas, it forbids slavery to be reestablished and that was very important because with the emancipation proclamation, there was no guarantee that after the war the south wouldn't try to reestablish the institution so the 13th amendment was critical, as well. >> thank you. >> good morning. i wonder how you handle the dilemma of the statute, the one
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called lincoln emancipation, lincoln stands over a shackled young black man. kneels at his feet. and the dell it was said to be paid for by the free washington citizens of d.c. though i don't know they chose the design. >> it didn't. >> that doesn't fit the narrative you're describing. was it unknown to them? >> yeah, it is interesting when frederick douglas saw it, he said it was not fitting and it would have been better if the enslaved man, the black man depicted had been standing beside lincoln. i agree with that totally. it -- what it does is it reinforces the great emancipator i'm page. the great definition at least that lincoln did it alone


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